Author Topic: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money  (Read 5321 times)

brandino29

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Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« on: January 09, 2020, 08:23:31 PM »
That pretty much sums it up right there. Short story - my grandparents, years into their retirement in their mid 80s and living hundreds of miles away from their kids and grandkids, have gotten scammed out of all their retirement savings somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 plus the additional tens of thousands in loans they have taken out.

It's an awful situation. It first came to our attention about a year ago and we thought we had caught it early enough and set them straight after they had lost what seemed to be "only" about $60k. Well, we didn't. And the scammers kept coming. And my grandparents kept buying gift thousands in gift cards and taking out loans against their house and their cars. The list goes on. And now my mom is with them and talking with a bankruptcy lawyer so they can file bankruptcy at the ripe old age of 85.

So it sucks. And I'm furious. I'm mad at myself and the rest of my family for not being more engaged earlier on and making sure they were safe. I'm mad at my grandparents for being so gullible and then continuing to shell out thousands of dollars for long after we brought them home, sat them down with everyone in our family and laid out all the evidence and made plans to keep them safe. I'm mad at the local bank for letting them drain their bank account, then take out a $15,000 loan, and then continue to give them loans even after my mom and aunt met with the bank president told them everything that was going on and got their names on the account. I'm mad at the lack of concern or interest that any of the law enforcement and government agencies that we've contacted to report the scams and ask for assistance have provided.

But, most of all I am furious at the asshole scammers who have continued and continued to dwindle the life savings of this sweet little unsuspecting old couple. It is mind-blowing to me that there are people so awful in this world that they find it acceptable to steal and steal money from vulnerable, good people who earned that money with decades of hard work. I seriously cannot fathom it.

Anyway, here's where my plea for help comes in. We have a year's worth of data, telephone numbers (mostly disconnected), (fake) names, addresses where they mailed this stuff. My grandparents have had no problem sending them cash and $1,000 telephones and gift cards and cashiers checks. It cannot be that hard to track these people down. There has got to be a way to get these people in trouble. They continue to call my grandparents daily. My grandparents continue to answer their phones. (We've changed their numbers, we've gotten rid of their internet).

How do I find out who is doing this and put them in prison?!

px4shooter

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2020, 08:50:44 PM »
Did they do a police report? What state? The dollar amount is close to a federal interest in the case, but the timeframe and multiple actors probably lessens the likelihood. They should still do an IC3 report. You can do it for them and list every name and number in the report. This is beneficial for locating related cases.

Prison...... well, if they are in the US then there is a chance. A slim one, but the age of the victims will be the only thing to push it over.

Did they send money? How? Where were the cards sent or were the numbers just read? Were the numbers IP phones?

You can send me a message, if you prefer. Most of these actors are foreign, which means the likelihood of prosecution is very low.

ender

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2020, 08:54:15 PM »
I am so sorry that you are dealing with this.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2020, 08:56:35 PM »
I would think the bank would have some duty of care given that they were informed of the situation. I'd be getting legal advice on that front also.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2020, 09:19:35 PM »
You file police reports, then you hand over all that information.

And then you let it go.

I hate to tell you this, but there likely is no way they're going to be caught unless they literally stumble into a police station and accidentally confess. Scammers like this are very good about moving around, using burner phones (pre-paid/disposable phones), and using/obtaining fake IDs.They may not even be in the same state, let alone country. And once your grandparents (or any of the easily scammed) get on the "sucker" list, their information is passed around and sold to other scammers and they'll keep hitting them up until the well runs dry.

It sucks. It is just heartbreaking and frustrating and likely you feel a blind rage and hatred towards those that would take advantage of the old or incompetent and think if only you could track the scammers down it may make things better somehow. But getting hung up on the idea that you need to seek revenge is sort of losing sight of the fact that your grandparents could have been stopped from putting themselves in the position a year ago, and short of recovering the money (I'd put the odds of that happening at zero chance of happening) it's just a waste of your time and attention and emotions.

For your own sanity, for theirs, your family needs to focus on what you can all do NOW and don't beat yourself up, or focus on the scammers (other than the police reports/evidence) and work on making your grandparents safe and prevent them from being scammed any further.

They may need to have a doctor declare them incompetent and have a family member take the into their home or find a home nearby someone that can care for them properly. Your mother being there for the bankruptcy meeting is great, but y'all need to have a real discussion about the fact that they need real help and take control of daily living needs, communication & decisions. They need to have their phone number changed for sure, likely should not be living by themselves, or may even need to move in with family or a home, but someone needs to spearhead this and speak with a elder care lawyer, and get things in motion to protect them from themselves and that may mean some pretty serious care.

The only other thing I think you could do is post on social media to your friends/coworkers to check on their elderly or fragile family and friends often and what types of scams your grandparents fell victim to. The more you get the word out of what to look for, the more people can be aware and watch for these scams and protect their own loved ones.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2020, 09:23:43 PM »
Wow! This is so common. My grandmother gets called constantly by scammers. They’ve works out that mostly old people have landlines and they are ruthless. Last month she got a call from “Uncle” claiming he was in an accident and needed money. She was so distraught she didn’t question the different voice. Luckily she involved the family and we quickly worked out that it was a scam, but her heart was racing. I have no idea why your grandparents keep feeding this beast, maybe pride or maybe they think they can get their money back? It seems like you all are doing everything in your power but if they’re under the spell, your options are limited.

six-car-habit

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2020, 01:34:43 AM »
I would think the bank would have some duty of care given that they were informed of the situation. I'd be getting legal advice on that front also.

  Agree with Anna .
Can i ask what were they supposedly buying with all these gift cards + cashiers checks ??

former player

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2020, 03:57:19 AM »
An elderly aunt of mine was subjected to a couple of very small but on-going scams (a so-called lottery in Australia was one) and was adamant there wasn't a problem.  The amounts were small enough not to affect her finances so I let them go.  She was of sound mind legally and in most respects, just misguided in these two instances.  I think there is almost nothing to be done in those circumstances. brandino, you have all my sympathy but the fault is not with you and your family: it's just a shitty outcome caused by shitty human beings.

What this does show up is the benefit of pensions and annuities in old age, as against investments.  Any of us at any time are vulnerable to fraud and scams, and the older we get the more problematic managing large sums of money becomes.  For people who've been independent all their adult lives, and managed their money well, acknowledging that the inevitable vulnerabilities of old age make this more difficult and risky is hard.  Also, there are no legal structures generally available for putting in safeguards at an appropriate level (eg a degree of supervision rather than declaring complete legal incompetence).   At some point exchanging capital for an assured income might be the best way for many of us to deal with the issue.

BussoV6

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2020, 08:13:54 AM »
An elderly aunt of mine was subjected to a couple of very small but on-going scams (a so-called lottery in Australia was one) and was adamant there wasn't a problem.  The amounts were small enough not to affect her finances so I let them go.  She was of sound mind legally and in most respects, just misguided in these two instances.  I think there is almost nothing to be done in those circumstances. brandino, you have all my sympathy but the fault is not with you and your family: it's just a shitty outcome caused by shitty human beings.

What this does show up is the benefit of pensions and annuities in old age, as against investments.  Any of us at any time are vulnerable to fraud and scams, and the older we get the more problematic managing large sums of money becomes.  For people who've been independent all their adult lives, and managed their money well, acknowledging that the inevitable vulnerabilities of old age make this more difficult and risky is hard.  Also, there are no legal structures generally available for putting in safeguards at an appropriate level (eg a degree of supervision rather than declaring complete legal incompetence).   At some point exchanging capital for an assured income might be the best way for many of us to deal with the issue.

This is something that I am concerned about for my future self. I read an article a while back about the dangers older people face in making poor financial decisions (not sure where I saw the article though).

Perhaps an advance plan to buy a life annuity with all remaining funds at 80 (or whenever) might be prudent?

MilesTeg

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2020, 08:36:20 AM »
I would think the bank would have some duty of care given that they were informed of the situation. I'd be getting legal advice on that front also.

  Agree with Anna .
Can i ask what were they supposedly buying with all these gift cards + cashiers checks ??

There are innumerable scams. Everything from 'here's a great in investment opportunity' to 'your computer has a virus!' To 'you owe the IRS this money today or you are going to jail'.

Gift cards are typically used because they are untraceable and the numbers can be relayed over a phone.

Another group that shares some moral responsibility is stores that don't blink at an 85 year old buying thousands of dollars of gift cards.

Google 'scambaiting' to find entertaining and sometimes informative videos of people who scam the scammers and reveal their tactics.

Mgmny

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2020, 08:49:19 AM »
Checking in: My grandma got scammed out somewhere between 250-325k. Those are withdrawals from her IRAs sent to scammers, but she also gave many of them her CC cards, so it's less clear how much MORE than that she was scammed out of.

She got exactly $0 back from bank (HUGE weekly/multi-weekly withdrawals of cash), credit cards, her financial advisor (had to approve all withdrawals - we think he might have been "in on it" because of this).

She lives (well, lived), in a small community. So, you mean to tell me that when this little old 85 year old woman who walked with a cane, is 5'0" making 10-20k cash withdrawals sometimes more than 1x a week raised no red flags in her small local bank? Come on!!

She had to call her financial advisor each time she wanted a withdrawal. Again, this was $300k in the span of about 18 months. Do you really think this guy (whose, by the way, business card says his name is Ben, when his name is really Mohammed (this has nothing to do with race, but it has to do with using a fake name as a financial advisor)) didn't suspect anything or had any idea of what was going on? I'm sure he got paid on each of her withdrawals as her account was setup with something like 1% withdrawal fees (effing crazy, in my opinion), so why would he question it? Anyways no, he "suspected nothing" and "had no idea" and he thought her "expenses must have gone up" (from withdrawing like 20k a year to 300k in a year - yeah, expenses must have REALLY gone up...!!).

CCs wouldn't reimburse anything, because she more or less authorized the purchases. They would say (not an exaggeration or joke), "We are going to purchase an iPad so we can track all this money you are sending us" and she says, "OK!"

THE REAL THING that made me upset, was when this happened, I called the county elder abuse hotline once all this came out, and the social worker i talked to refused to help. She said, "It sounds like you are upset your grandma is spending her money. She may not be spending her money in the way you would, but that doesn't mean it's illegal or your decision." SHE WAS PURCHASING $300k of REPLICA "collector's stamps" that probably don't even exist!! They would say something like, "This collectors stamp just sold for $8,000 last year - we have a replica that we would sell you for $4000 in mint condition! The $8k sale was in "average" condition! You are getting a steal of a deal! We only charge a 10% holding and transaction fee. So, for $4400 you can have a stamp [replica] that MUST be worht much more than $8000!" SO CRAZY.

We worked with police for probably 6 months before we gave up. They were honestly worthless. They kept saying, "we are working on it" or "Chuck is out of the office this week - he'll call you back next week." and then when we got ahold of someone with knowledge of our case he would say, "I'm waiting for the local police to respond where grandma sent the money." We got exactly nowhere.

We thought about paying a private investigator, but that would just cost MORE money and even if they found the people responsible, i'm sure the money is spent and gone. Not worth it. Very sad.

Good luck to you!


zhelud

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2020, 08:58:57 AM »
Please report things like this to the Federal Trade Commission:

https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may also have advice:

www.consumerfinance.gov


mozar

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2020, 06:13:30 PM »
I would be more upset about the lack of law enforcement than the scammers imo. As long as they get away with it they will keep scamming.  If you really want to beat yourself up you could've had their credit and bank accounts frozen. I don't see how adding names to a bank account would help.
Bankruptcy sounds like a good idea. They still might be able to out wit it and get loans from loan sharks. Without monitoring them 24/7 there's not a lot you can do. It might be good for them to lose their house and cars and move into a small apartment where they can use public transportation.  They will only be able to do so much damage to themselves.
And  Know that their debts will die with them.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2020, 06:41:20 PM »
It cannot be that hard to track these people down. There has got to be a way to get these people in trouble. They continue to call my grandparents daily. My grandparents continue to answer their phones. (We've changed their numbers, we've gotten rid of their internet).

Based on the understanding of these scams, it seems like many scammers are located overseas and the chances of the local authorities there doing anything are slim to none.

Maenad

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2020, 05:01:44 AM »
She had to call her financial advisor each time she wanted a withdrawal. Again, this was $300k in the span of about 18 months. Do you really think this guy (whose, by the way, business card says his name is Ben, when his name is really Mohammed (this has nothing to do with race, but it has to do with using a fake name as a financial advisor)) didn't suspect anything or had any idea of what was going on?

As an aside, lots of people of non-European ancestry use Anglicized names in the U.S. And a dude named "Mohammed" is dealing with a lot of racism, so yeah, he's going to use a nickname. I've worked with countless coworkers from China, for instance, who have a nickname that's easier for white people to pronounce.

You do what you have to in order to get by. Anti-German sentiment was bad enough out in rural MN during WW1 that my great-grandfather changed the pronunciation (and sometimes spelling) of our last name.

Back on topic, if her advisor has a fiduciary duty, you could report him to the org that certified him. That looks like a breach of that duty to me.

Sibley

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2020, 09:20:56 AM »
She had to call her financial advisor each time she wanted a withdrawal. Again, this was $300k in the span of about 18 months. Do you really think this guy (whose, by the way, business card says his name is Ben, when his name is really Mohammed (this has nothing to do with race, but it has to do with using a fake name as a financial advisor)) didn't suspect anything or had any idea of what was going on?

As an aside, lots of people of non-European ancestry use Anglicized names in the U.S. And a dude named "Mohammed" is dealing with a lot of racism, so yeah, he's going to use a nickname. I've worked with countless coworkers from China, for instance, who have a nickname that's easier for white people to pronounce.

You do what you have to in order to get by. Anti-German sentiment was bad enough out in rural MN during WW1 that my great-grandfather changed the pronunciation (and sometimes spelling) of our last name.

Back on topic, if her advisor has a fiduciary duty, you could report him to the org that certified him. That looks like a breach of that duty to me.

Fiduciary or not - report him to the professional oversight group. I don't have a fiduciary duty, but I do have other ethical obligations that may come into play. CPAs are regulated at the state level for example.

spartana

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2020, 02:33:42 PM »
Wow I'm so sorry your grandparents had this happen to them. It is terrible and unfortunately getting worse. While the elderly seem to get targeted the most, you see much the same with younger people too. I agree there is not much you can do but somehow take over their finances but this website may give you some ideas about who to contact for different types of fraud. https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds

I hate to admit I am morbidly fascinated by fraud/scammer and the people they target who give them everything. I can understand the elderly falling for this but all younger people who get taken - many for huge sums over long time periods - just baffles me.

ctuser1

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2020, 02:34:18 PM »
Sorry you are dealing with this.

Tangentially related, but how do people go about positioning oneself not to fall prey to these things in the old age?

Some sort of irrevocable spendthrift trust?

That sounds a lot of work complication, and I’m not sure you can put all retirement assets into such trusts without significant tax issues.

Cognitive decline can happen to anyone? The old age is called the second childhood in some places for a reason.

spartana

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2020, 02:38:11 PM »
^spend down all your assets and live on a smaller fixed income via annuity, pension or SS? Cut up the credit cards? Require a second (and maybe third) party to approve any financial transactions?

ETA in my case I don't have kids or any youger relatives so plan to set myself up once older in the above ways just in case. Paid off house. Direct deposit of limited income and immediate payment of all bills via direct debit. Get rid of credit cards and any way I can access my accounts without someone to approve it. Not sure who that will be. The younger BF/SO (assuming he's still around) or my rich online future hubby the Nigerian Prince ;-)?
« Last Edit: January 12, 2020, 02:45:56 PM by spartana »

KBecks

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2020, 02:49:16 PM »
Sorry you are dealing with this.

Tangentially related, but how do people go about positioning oneself not to fall prey to these things in the old age?

Some sort of irrevocable spendthrift trust?

That sounds a lot of work complication, and I’m not sure you can put all retirement assets into such trusts without significant tax issues.

Cognitive decline can happen to anyone? The old age is called the second childhood in some places for a reason.

There's some info out there that your financial intelligence peaks sometime in your 60's, and people have to prepare their finances so they do not eff up in old age.  I know a lot of old guys who are fantastic stock pickers and it keeps their minds active, but I think most of them plan a fail-safe.  I am not sure what that protection should be, but I think it's great advice to have a plan for how to protect yourself from your older and less capable you.

When I went to our bank for a money order to pay off our mortgage, the bank had questions for me to check that I was not getting scammed -- they wanted to know who I was sending to and my relationship to them. The banker told me of a lady she worked with who she did not allow to take $60k out of her account.  Now -- did that totally prevent this lady from getting scammed later?  I don't know but the banks should have a set of precautionary questions for all of their elderly clients who want to make very large withdrawals.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2020, 02:51:45 PM by KBecks »

charis

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2020, 02:53:35 PM »
Before giving up entirely you might try contacting the state attorney general's office in whatever state she resides in and/or has accounts in.  Sometimes they have ongoing investigations that might be linked to the groups she was targeted by, or other resources they can offer.  Here is an example of one such program in Washington state:

https://www.atg.wa.gov/fraud-fighters

This^

These types of elder scams are in the hot seat and the AG's office in my state is going after it. Don't just drop this.

brandino29

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2020, 09:23:47 PM »
Hey guys, thanks for all the responses and input.

Yes, we have reported it to multiple authorities including the state attorney general. I forget which agency it was (maybe the attorney general) but when my mom mentioned that we had some 60 pages of supporting documentation the lady on the other end of the line said "I have no way to accept all that through our system, I'll just mark 'Additional files available." That seems about as far as we get everywhere.

They swear they haven't ever been threatened (which we don't totally buy) but they definitely originally got sucked in thinking they were about to receive millions of dollars in lottery winnings -- up front taxes and what not. When it really all came out to us it involved a suitcase that had been mailed to their house. Supposedly all the winnings were inside but they had to pay another X thousand dollars to get the combination to open it. It ended up with the local police and county sheriff's department and the bomb squad coming to their home. It was nothing but magazines inside.

I do think that the small little light at the end of the tunnel is that once we finalize all the bankruptcy stuff the scamming ::should:: stop. After they gave away all their savings they started taking out loans and once they declare bankruptcy they shouldn't qualify for anymore loans. It is also a small piece in the larger picture that more and more folks like my grandparents are going to be filing for bankruptcy so all of these banks that are currently turning a blind eye to this bullshit are going to be on the hook for these losses and they are going to have to take the lead on being more proactive about preventing scams.

I agree that most of these scammers are out of the country but they've been mailing stuff to addresses in the U.S. including Florida, Minnesota and California. So someone somewhere in the U.S. is in on it too.

I did think about hiring a private investigator as well but it's true, we aren't going to get any of the money back. It's beyond the money though. I just want these scammers to rot in prison. Actually, I'd like to get to them in person and beat them with a baseball bat in the face. What I find most frustrating though is that they definitely can be tracked down. Point in fact...the former CIA director who was targeted and made a few phone calls and pulled some strings and low and behold they tracked the scammer and put him behind bars for years.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/telephone-scam-artist-picked-wrong-target-former-fbi-cia-director-n970626

BradminOxt19

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2020, 03:45:39 AM »
Do you know who I am mostly furious with?  Our damn lawmakers and communication services companies that allow antiquated, outdated systems to be used for consumer and business purposes.  Take this story for example:  https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/12/us/texas-school-district-email-scam-trnd/index.html

People are relying on telephone systems, emails, to receive "trusted" information to do business.  Telephone systems are rife with vulnerabilities for anyone to spoof their caller ID, and call anyone else from any corner of the world, to pretend to be someone they are not.  Emails are now mostly spam, with tons of phishing / malware content meant to suck the vulnerable people in.

This should have been dealt with years ago.  Telephone systems should have been hardened with authentication and security to prevent this type of anarchy.  Finally there is new legislation in the works that uses modern authentication for mobile phones to ensure caller ID is authentic.  Nothing is happening for emails.  It's a sham and a shame.

For the elderly, the #1 thing is to get rid of a landline, or port it to a service like Ooma or Google Voice, where you can set it up so only trusted contacts can ring through, everyone else goes to voicemail or hears a "phone disconnected" message.

I placed some elderly relatives on Ooma and set up their privacy so only contacts can ring through.  Now their phone rarely rings and I get email notifications of all their voicemails so I know what is happening.  I also have their Gmail on my devices so I can keep track of the types of messages they are getting and how to block scams.

It's pathetic and outrageous that our communication systems are complete shit, and the elderly have not been trained to be skeptical of inbound contacts on those systems.  I'm hopeful the younger generations are sufficiently skeptical that it becomes a life long habit and will be sufficiently harder to scam down the road.

And our lawmakers and communication companies need to create secure communication systems to prevent this type of tragedy!

Miss Piggy

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2020, 07:12:06 PM »
She had to call her financial advisor each time she wanted a withdrawal. Again, this was $300k in the span of about 18 months. Do you really think this guy (whose, by the way, business card says his name is Ben, when his name is really Mohammed (this has nothing to do with race, but it has to do with using a fake name as a financial advisor)) didn't suspect anything or had any idea of what was going on? I'm sure he got paid on each of her withdrawals as her account was setup with something like 1% withdrawal fees (effing crazy, in my opinion), so why would he question it? Anyways no, he "suspected nothing" and "had no idea" and he thought her "expenses must have gone up" (from withdrawing like 20k a year to 300k in a year - yeah, expenses must have REALLY gone up...!!).


@Mgmny - NO. NO. NO. (Sorry...I know you weren't asking a question. I just needed to say it.)

Does/did this guy work for an otherwise reputable brokerage firm*? If so, please tell me you contacted that organization to report him. Please? I have worked for two brokerage firms, and both of them would have investigated and subsequently fired the guy, plus made the client whole again.

"I'll take Multiple Red Flags for a thousand, Alex."  Seriously, Every. Single. Employee...at any reputable brokerage firm must take training classes annually that cover situations like this. This crap is simply not tolerated. Does it happen occasionally? Yes, it certainly does. But if/when the firm finds out about it, all bets are off.

Please share...I need to know how this turned out.

*Yeah, I know the phrase "reputable brokerage firm" is somewhat of an oxymoron in this online community, but work with me here.

Sibley

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2020, 07:17:22 AM »
...

It's pathetic and outrageous that our communication systems are complete shit, and the elderly have not been trained to be skeptical of inbound contacts on those systems.  I'm hopeful the younger generations are sufficiently skeptical that it becomes a life long habit and will be sufficiently harder to scam down the road.

...

The problem isn't that they haven't been trained to be skeptical. The problem is that their cognitive abilities decline with age. When you have elderly individuals who used to be law enforcement investigating these types of things getting scammed, it's not the education or the attitude. It's the brain. Even those who become paranoid can still be scammed, it's just different techniques.

Mgmny

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #25 on: January 15, 2020, 08:50:17 AM »
She had to call her financial advisor each time she wanted a withdrawal. Again, this was $300k in the span of about 18 months. Do you really think this guy (whose, by the way, business card says his name is Ben, when his name is really Mohammed (this has nothing to do with race, but it has to do with using a fake name as a financial advisor)) didn't suspect anything or had any idea of what was going on? I'm sure he got paid on each of her withdrawals as her account was setup with something like 1% withdrawal fees (effing crazy, in my opinion), so why would he question it? Anyways no, he "suspected nothing" and "had no idea" and he thought her "expenses must have gone up" (from withdrawing like 20k a year to 300k in a year - yeah, expenses must have REALLY gone up...!!).


@Mgmny - NO. NO. NO. (Sorry...I know you weren't asking a question. I just needed to say it.)

Does/did this guy work for an otherwise reputable brokerage firm*? If so, please tell me you contacted that organization to report him. Please? I have worked for two brokerage firms, and both of them would have investigated and subsequently fired the guy, plus made the client whole again.

"I'll take Multiple Red Flags for a thousand, Alex."  Seriously, Every. Single. Employee...at any reputable brokerage firm must take training classes annually that cover situations like this. This crap is simply not tolerated. Does it happen occasionally? Yes, it certainly does. But if/when the firm finds out about it, all bets are off.

Please share...I need to know how this turned out.

*Yeah, I know the phrase "reputable brokerage firm" is somewhat of an oxymoron in this online community, but work with me here.

Was he reported? No.

All of her money was in Voya accounts, but i do not believe that he worked directly for Voya - just put her money there.

The reason he wasn't reported, or so i'm told by my parents, is that he also is holding (allegedly) physical gold for my grandma. It's unclear if HE is holding it himself, or if he is just the only one with all the paperwork as my grandma/parents have very little documentation of the gold holdings.

They are concerned that if they rat him out, that her gold will disappear with him... It's a shitty situation, and I personally think they are handling this incorrectly, but I've tried talking to them about it, but money and family can be a tricky thing - especially now that she passed away a few months ago.

BradminOxt19

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #26 on: January 15, 2020, 11:04:23 AM »
...

It's pathetic and outrageous that our communication systems are complete shit, and the elderly have not been trained to be skeptical of inbound contacts on those systems.  I'm hopeful the younger generations are sufficiently skeptical that it becomes a life long habit and will be sufficiently harder to scam down the road.

...

The problem isn't that they haven't been trained to be skeptical. The problem is that their cognitive abilities decline with age. When you have elderly individuals who used to be law enforcement investigating these types of things getting scammed, it's not the education or the attitude. It's the brain. Even those who become paranoid can still be scammed, it's just different techniques.
Agreed, but right now the onus is all on the victim to protect him/herself.  The system needs to be redone to mitigate outright easy fraud by criminals from any corner of the world.  Re-designing security into the system is not that hard, from a technical perspective, and teaching people how the systems work would help a lot.

Right now there is almost no visibility into how the systems work behind the scenes, users are almost hidden from the technical details.  My parents use yahoo email (don't ask), and they only use it on their iPad.  The Yahoo email app hides the sender email (#$#Q$$!!!!) deliberately, so they get really confused when they got an email from Bank of America telling them about some unauthorized transaction.   They wanted to go to the bank to clear it up.  I was visiting, and said wait, popped the email open on my windows browser, and I could clearly see the Bank of America email was from kljaewtwt@sksdtas-xetw.tv - so I showed them this is clearly a scam. 

Technology is now being designed to dumb users down, and it's not right.  I think app makers should be culpable for not doing what they can to help consumers be more educated. There needs to be clear and easy ways to certify senders as the official entity (clearly doable with SSL certificates and such).  It's outrageous the entire system is rigged to make things easy and dumb for users, but make them entirely vulnerable to criminals.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 11:05:55 AM by BradminOxt19 »

yachi

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #27 on: January 15, 2020, 11:34:16 AM »
Brandino,
The US addresses can be real people who are also being scammed: victims of romance scams who forward the money overseas, victims of self-employment scams who believe they've been hired to process checks and forward money.  In certain cases, the US addresses can be random, and unrelated to the scammer:  If a scammer wants to provide verified purchase reviews on Amazon, he could have the victim purchase the item, and send it anywhere.  All that matters is the item was purchased.  Google 'Scam Baiter,' and '419eater' for websites that expose how these scams work.
It's a shame that these scams are out there.  Progress is slow in combating it:  Money orders carry warnings about these scams, and Walmart has signs warning about paying the IRS using gift cards.  But people people are being more cautious as evidenced by scammers telling victims not to mention what they are doing with the gift cards to anybody.

Fuzz

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2020, 02:12:22 PM »
Several thoughts:

You might be able to find a private investigator for less than you think. My guess is a local PI that takes pictures of car wrecks isn't the right person (just like your local law enforcement officer may not be right person--some of them just want to do traffic stops and arrest drunks). I would actually look on Upwork for tech savvy folks and set a budget of $500 or something.

Also, you a lot people are saying things like the scammers must be overseas or sophisticated. You don't know unless you look. It's quite possible that they're in the US and own a home. Channel your rage and find out.

You might talk to an elder abuse attorney in your state. I am aware of a lawsuit against a wealth management adviser for failing to look out for Grandma. What do her contracts with the financial institutions say. Plus one to @Miss Piggy
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 02:15:17 PM by Fuzz »

Miss Piggy

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #29 on: January 15, 2020, 08:58:19 PM »
Was he reported? No.

All of her money was in Voya accounts, but i do not believe that he worked directly for Voya - just put her money there.

The reason he wasn't reported, or so i'm told by my parents, is that he also is holding (allegedly) physical gold for my grandma. It's unclear if HE is holding it himself, or if he is just the only one with all the paperwork as my grandma/parents have very little documentation of the gold holdings.

They are concerned that if they rat him out, that her gold will disappear with him... It's a shitty situation, and I personally think they are handling this incorrectly, but I've tried talking to them about it, but money and family can be a tricky thing - especially now that she passed away a few months ago.

Wow. Can she "retrieve" her gold, then move forward on any next steps before that's gone, too?

Is the "adviser" in the United States? If so, you can check his name on brokercheck.finra.org

You do not need anything other than his name to check his "status" as an adviser. You might learn more about him, for better or worse, but at least you'd know whether he's licensed, whether there have been any infractions/disclosures against him, who he officially works/worked for, etc. You may find out quite a bit.

At the VERY least, when you're ready to move forward on any next steps, he should be reported to FINRA so they can investigate. Here's more info: https://www.finra.org/investors/have-problem/file-complaint

And once you find out what organization he works/worked for, please consider reporting what you experienced to that organization. Heck, even if he didn't work for Voya at the time, you might start with them. It may or may not help your family's situation, but you may help others not get the same treatment.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 09:00:51 PM by Miss Piggy »

BlueHouse

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Re: Help! Grandparents got scammed out of all their money
« Reply #30 on: January 17, 2020, 11:53:24 AM »
This sucks so bad!  I'm sorry for your grandparents.  You're probably also finding that even if their powers of reason are slipping away, the embarrassment of everyone knowing that they've been scammed may also make them less likely to give the whole story.   Whenever I need to have a conversation about finances with my mom, I try to start out by explaining "these are some of the scams that are out there" so she knows that she's not alone and maybe she'll be more careful the next time.   I'm fortunate in that my mom has let me take over her finances completely and she's happy about that.  She still carries around her "little green book" of all her passwords but she hasn't figured out yet that I have changed every single password and she can't even access her own accounts any more.